First 20 minutes ARTICLE #03 What works?

First 20 minutes ARTICLE #03 What works?

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What works? Raise children at the feet of culture.

Develop a coffee-shop-footy-family-christmas-party mentality.

Raising a child at the feet of the culture you would love to see him adopt is part of the answer to helping a child last the distance. Children are usually more attentive to the things going on around them than we give them credit for.

ARTICLE: Series: First 20 minutes #03

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I heard a long time ago the way a Pacific island culture (I have forgotten which one) teaches the children the rituals and celebrations of that culture is to always have children present at each of these occasions and allow them to play and grow up into the culture at the feet of that culture.

This is reminiscent of the Old Testament instructions to the people of Israel and how children were to be a part of the Passover meal. To this day, a young child asks the questions that lead the meal and its explanations.

There are similarities in our everyday experiences.

The cafe culture that has grown up and is so highly valued that even small children will not deter parents from the rituals and behaviours associated with the coffee shop. It doesn’t always work. As a parent of very young children I didn’t always make it or a cafe or last too long if I did get there. Perhaps the caffeine addiction was sated but the conversation, relationships, friendships and talking through the parenting issues confronting us were put on hold for the next time. We persisted. Over time children listened and learnt the art of conversation. They wandered off but learnt not to touch the merchandise. They started on the taste of the froth of baby chinos. The continued with the froth of the late. They drank coffee and are now one of my daughters is a barista behind the counter. They weren’t taught cafe culture and coffee bean roasting out in the back room while their parents were left in peace.

Children grew to follow a Australian rules footy team by being a part of the crowd on the hill at the Western Oval. They would wander off the make a little money collecting cans. They would ask what it’s called when someone catches the ball (a mark). And wonder why everyone would cry out, “Balllll!!!!!” (telling the umpire we believe the our player caught and tackled the opposition player while still holding the ball having had prior opportunity to kick or hand-ball the football away .. a free kick to our tackler!!!). And what about grabbing someone, what’s that about? (to tackle: to grab and drag an opposition player who has the ball to the ground without contact above the shoulders or by tripping.)(Holding the man: tackling someone who hasn’t possession of the ball)
Children would learn in the footy stands. Nearly always a child would be given team colours, sometimes at birth. Even if they chose to follow a different team, parents would be sad but at least they still followed the code. They would grow to stand with their family at the MCG to watch and cheer their teams as they clashed. Children were not taught the culture of footy by learning the rules in the change rooms while the game was on outside. To learn to play, they attended clinics and played the game in age appropriate ways and didn’t just sit in a room and watch videos and listen to stories about footy legends.

When a new son-in-law arrives on the scene and family Christmas parties come around, many of the rituals and behaviours have been long set in concrete. Change rarely occurs and if it does, it is because old Grand Aunt is too old now to host; a grown child marries and juggles competing family interests; a baby is born into that family and changes around travel, feed times and present giving are necessary. In fact, a child in the midst often necessitates the biggest changes to culture. That child is not left home until they are old enough. They don’t watch the video replay of the party until they turn 14! They even receive presents before they know what a present is. Don’t worry, by the time a child is three they understand presents! That’s a ritual enacted for them just twice a year and they get it.

Each of these metaphors break down at certain points as they relate to children in the church. The point is well made however that, by whatever means, we learn culture and form faith best:
[ul style=”5″] [li]through doing; [/li] [li]through growing a sense of connection with, participation in and belonging to the culture [/li] [li]through growing a sense of connection with, participation in and belonging with those practicing the culture [/li] [li]by being engaged by it and immersed in it. [/li] [li]by being raised at the feet of it. [/li] [/ul][spacer height=”10″ mobile_hide=”true”] Sometimes the fear of congregations is that in order to involve children they will need to have gimmicky performances of puppets and drama, that the deeply significant elements of a worship service will change and there will be more noise and disruption. While there may be small concessions that need to be made, much of what we do may not need to change at all. Perhaps the way we do them or introduce certain activities will need to be more carefully thought through but this is an activity that generally helps everyone to consider why we do things the way we do. Even the most liturgical or the most contemporary services where it seems like there is nothing for children can be engaged by children. There are plenty of stories like this around. What is required in these cases are parents and church leadership determined and passionate about learning the skills to raise children in the midst of such activities.

We can do nothing and children might form faith in our midst. We can do more and children will form faith in our midst.

Raise children at the feet of the culture we would love to see them adopt.

[phildup55/Phillip Day © midst.com.au This article is FreeShare.
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For reflection

What have you seen or heard of or experienced that relates to this?

• What culture have you grown up in that you have appreciated and learnt from the ground up?
• There are often things about culture we would love to change. What have you seen that would be worth thinking about changing?
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Reference

We gratefully acknowledge the following sources.
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Notes

• Author: phildup55 • Date: 06/11/2014
Copyright/freeshare
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